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International Law

The 21st Century: The Century of Reforming The UN Security Council

Raiis Gassanly

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Reforming the UN SC with the veto power only of the UN Secretary General and a new article of the UN Charter “On the Rights of Nations to Self-Determination” will eliminate the aggressive fervor of the USA, Russia and China on inciting regional and world wars on our Planet.

On July 19, 2017, at the meeting of the UN General Assembly devoted to the reform of the UN SC, the Deputy Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN V. Safronov raised the issue of the reform of the UNSC. He proposes to expand the composition of the Security Council at the expense of only the countries of Asia and Africa, which is a formal attitude towards the UN, as the most important organ in the fate of the countries of the world in maintaining international peace and security on our planet.

In my opinion, the expansion of the UN SC should cover the most important countries from all continents of our Planet. At the same time, in the absence of members rights to the veto, which will allow discussing in the UN SC the most important problems of the countries of the world with relevant resolutions for the reality of their execution.

Below I cite my draft reform of the UN SC, which differs radically from the proposal of the representative of the Russian Federation, the United States and other countries to the United Nations.

REFORMING THE UN SC WITH THE RIGHT OF THE VETO OF THE UNSC

Mankind is at the forefront of a direct collision between the United States and Russia or China on the basis of their geopolitical and geostrategic interests in their regions and countries of the world. As a fact, the UN SC has long been in the position of a “Chinese observer” – a passive observer of the aggressive actions of the leading empires with their invasions into the countries of the world, beginning in the middle of the XX century to this day in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

And as the consequences of these invasions, there is complete ruin of the regions and the infrastructure of countries, the massive death of civilians and the flow of refugees, which, in turn, leads to global problems in Europe and the USA.

This bloody large-scale process continues to this day since 2000 year, where, finally, from 2015 year, the interests of the powers of the USA and Russia collided directly with their heads in the Middle East in order to display their monopolistic geostrategic positions in specific regions of the world. In turn, the confrontation between the US and Russia is urgently needed by the time of the shaky regime of President Vladimir Putin, when the material condition of the population and the country’s infrastructure is cracking along all the seams with a weak economy.

A rhetorical question arises: what is the leading role of the UN and its main body of the Security Council, as an international organization of all countries of the world? The UN was created, on the one hand, to prevent world and regional wars with disastrous consequences due to Man’s fault, as heads of leading empires and countries of the world. On the other hand, to prevent natural disasters and disasters for the population of the Planet, such as nuclear power plant explosions, tsunamis, earthquakes, meteorite falls, landslides, tectonic collisions and much more.

The creation of the UN in 1945 pursued international cooperation of the countries of the world in political, economic, scientific, cultural, sports and other types of relations, regardless of their political, social, national and religious conditions.

The basis of the UN SC is the primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the countries of the world, suppressing not only regional and world wars, but also separatism on interethnic and interreligious soil. At the same time, all UN members are obliged to obey the decisions of the UN SC and their implementation.

A rhetorical question arises: why does the UN SC, from the date of its emergence to this day more than 70 years, fail to fulfill its direct responsibilities for maintaining peace and security, against the background of the regional wars in the world? Why does the UN SC not consider the causes of the emergence of aggressive bloody wars at the level of civilian deaths, mass refugees and the devastation of their cities by major powers? Why does the UN SC not give a proper assessment of the actions of countries like the USA, the former USSR, its successor to Russia and other specific countries of the world? Why does the UN SC not control over the years the course of action of the resolutions on specific countries, which it adopted, and does not put forward at the same time sanctions? Who and why is interested in this when the bill for these wars is no longer in millions and billions of dollars, but in the end in trillions? Whereas the US debt is $ 23 trillion, when the largest historical power of the USSR disappears, and the economy of its successor to Russia today is not detached from the muddy bottom.

According to the UN Charter, countries of the world have authorized the UN SC to “investigate any dispute or situation that may lead to international friction or cause a dispute to determine whether the continuation of this dispute or situation could not threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” However, even today, the UN SC ignores all bloody events in the countries of the world. What is the reason for not fulfilling the duties of the UN SC?

As a vivid example, the outcome of the Second World War in early 1945 was predetermined by the defeat of Nazi Germany, and at the same time aggressive Japan, and does not give a proper assessment of these US nuclear strikes with the massive deaths of more than 200 thousand people and the complete devastation of two cities in Japan. And this, in turn, allows the former USSR in 1961 to provoke the Cuban nuclear crisis with the United States, and then its successor Russia to threaten nuclear ashes for the United States and European countries.

There was also no assessment of the actions of the authorities of England, which led to the ruins, like Stalingrad in 1943, the beautiful city of Dresden with historical museums just for the fact that the world criminal of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler steadily bombed and destroyed their cities.

So, with the tacit consent of the UN SC, the wars since 1945 have not only stopped, but, on the contrary, have become more frequent in the regions of the world due to the following, in my opinion, reasons. These include the achievement of priorities of the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of the nuclear superpowers in the regions of the world; dividing the world with the destruction of contradictory social systems, capitalist or formerly communist, and today simply Putin’s; intervention in dictatorial and authoritarian countries with their centuries – old Muslim orders and traditions in order to introduce the “democratic values” of Europe; the implementation of “historical justice” with the aim of reviving the centuries – old imperial territories like Tsarist Russia; the emergence of two or more sovereign states for the same nation in the absence of an article in the UN Charter “On the Rights of Nations to Self-Determination” with the dual policy of the countries.

With the collapse of the USSR, the hegemony of the one polar world politics of the United States over the countries of the West and the world is established. And this, in turn, allows the United States to pursue an independent foreign policy in the world, ignoring their consideration and the consent of the UN SC itself.

As two vivid examples of this, on the one hand, the United States, using the tragedy of September 11, 2001 in New York, killed about three thousand civilians in the skyscrapers at the hands of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda. On the other hand, the former USSR in 1979, without the resolutions of the UN Security Council, they sent their troops into Afghanistan under the slogan of creating “democratic institutions” in the ancient Muslim country. And this process continues to this day at the level of the civil war in the country of Afghanistan.

Without the relevant resolutions of the UN SC, the US in alliance with the countries of Europe has been waging an aggressive war from 2003 to this day in the countries of the Middle East – Iraq, Libya and Syria, with Russia joining in 2015. As a result, a self-proclaimed state of ISIL is born at the level of the ancient laws; complete devastation of cities with a massive death of the population and refugees in millions of people in the countries of the world.

All this speaks of the real viability of the UN regulator and the UN SC itself.

It follows that the Third World Nuclear War has not yet erupted with disastrous consequences for all of Mankind with its possible disappearance, it is necessary to reform the UN SC. At the same time, with all the discussions and resolutions adopted by him, the UN Secretary General should actively participate personally with the sole voting right granted to the UN SC resolutions. For he represents a responsible person for the destinies of the countries of the world – all the UN members, with the goal of actually protecting them the international rights of the countries of the world, regardless of their social systems, as dictatorial, authoritarian or democratic regimes.

The UN SC has the right to “determine the existence of any threat to peace, any violation of peace or an act of aggression and make recommendations or decide what measures should be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.” The Security Council has the right to impose coercive measures on States violating peace and security, including the use of armed forces and certain sanctions, in accordance with Article 25 of the UN Charter. However, the UN SC cannot really use this right, because its members, like the United States and Russia, pursue a policy of double standard, using the veto right when they need it.

INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF UNSC UN MEMBERS RIGHT TO VETO

All of the above on the aggressive actions of the powers and countries of the world is explained, in my opinion, on the one hand, by the existence of the rights of the five permanent members of the UN SC to vote, veto for consideration, discussion and adoption of resolutions contradicting their foreign or domestic policy, promoting this geostrategic and geopolitical interests that go against the protection of the rights of civilians and the preservation of their places of residence. On the other hand, the five permanent members of the UN SC are not able to cover and specifically find out the pressing problems in the countries of the world with their solutions.

That is why since 1991, the United States used the veto more than 14 times, and Russia more than 13 times, which resulted in catastrophic consequences in the world, in the examples of the countries of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

Countries around the world, including personally former UN SG Kofi Annan, made repeated statements on reforming the UN SC with the goal of increasing the number of permanent members, but without making any reservation about eliminating the veto power, which allows imperial countries to manifest geostrategic and geopolitical countries, at the root of their rights interests in the regions of the world.

In my opinion, in view of the above, the reform of the UN SC should be in the following order:

1. increasing the number of permanent members of the UN SC to 15 at the level of strategic and solvent countries – representatives of all continents of our Planet;

2. increasing the number of non-permanent members of the UN SC to 10, periodically replaced after 3 years, taking into account their solvency and significance in the regions of the continents of the Planet;

3. exclusion of the right to vote of the veto of all members of the UN SC;

4. all the issues discussed and the resolutions of the UNSC are adopted taking into account the majority of their votes and

5. oblige active participation in the activities of the UN SC by the UN SG, precisely with his right to vote in veto on questions and UN Security Council resolutions.

The current UN SC permanent members, as the countries of the anti-Hitler and Japanese-Chinese coalitions where the world wars took place, should remain on the UN SC list.

Further, we should take into account countries with their geographical location and importance in the regions of the continents of the Planet by the number of their population, religiosity, the power of their economy and armed forces.

Based on the foregoing, in my opinion:

A. permanent members of the UN Security Council should be: the United States, Russia, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Argentina; that is, there are 15 of them, and

B. non-permanent of the UN SC — periodically replaced every three years: Greece (Belgium, Bulgaria, Holland); Poland (Switzerland, Czech Republic, Romania); Denmark (Sweden, Norway, Finland); Azerbaijan (Belarus, Georgia, Armenia); Uzbekistan (Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan); Japan (Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, South Korea); Pakistan (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq); Israel (South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Tanzania); Chile (Colombia, Venezuela, Peru); Mexico (Canada. Paraguay); i.e. there are 10 of them.

Thus, in my opinion, the composition of the UN SC should consist of 15 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members. All of them do not have veto power.

In my opinion, a neutral person in the UN should have the right to vote the veto on the topics proposed for discussion and resolutions adopted on them by a majority of the UN SC votes. And this person, who will bear all responsibility for the activities and decisions taken by the UN SC, is none other than the UN Secretary General. This is similar to how in all countries of the world the final solution of the problem of war and peace is provided to the first person of the country – the President or the Premier. And this is my answer to the newly elected 45th President of the United States Donald Trump, who in one of his speeches of December 13, 2016, said: “As for the UN, from January 20, 2017, the organization will be different.” And in his inaugural address, he noted his US vision for the future: “America is first and foremost.” It is his concept of tensile and double meaning. At the same time, he did not mention about the countries of cooperation, including NATO, where the United States plays the leading role. Thus, the EU countries should realize that they can no longer hope for close cooperation and patronage from US.

We must look for ways to strengthen our role, at least in Europe, while not forgetting that it is precisely the reform of the UN SC and with the majority and solidarity of members that will allow them to influence the politics of the world.

It should be recalled that in 2000, the administration of former US President Bill Clinton agreed to expand the UN SC to more than 23 members. However, with the right to vote only to the permanent five members of the UN SC. Since the inception of the UN, the UN SC has been criticized to this day because of the voting rights of its five permanent members to decisions that could harm both their country and others in the world.

I graduated from the energy department of the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry in Baku in 1960. I taught in technical universities of the countries, I have a scientific degree and a title, as well as three author's inventions with certificates of the former USSR.

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International Law

Fundamental legacy of The Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials (1945-1948)

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These – rather unfortunate – days some voices in Europe are trying, in a quite a historical fashion, to question the very fundaments of the antifascist legacy. Dangerous and highly destructive equitation attempts are on the way. Still, this legacy is what finally made the Old continent human and peaceful – a role model to admire and for the rest of us to follow.

These regrettable equitations make it worth to revisit the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, which are essential pillars of the Human Rights charter brokered right after under the OUN auspices. Consequently, a very legacy of these trials is extraordinary and far reaching. It represents a core building material of the house called Modern Europe – something that the Director of International Institute IFIMES, Dr. Zijad Becirovic repeatedly stresses in his media appearances, as one of the bold but rather are voices of the right direction and historical responsibility awareness today.

Conclusively, the importance of tribunals is hard to overstate. Its reaffirmation today is needed like never since the very end of the WWII.

Noam Chomsky once said, “For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.” This was not the case for Germany and Japan post-World War II. The victorious Allied powers established the first international criminal tribunals to prosecute political and military officials for war crimes and other atrocities committed during wartime. The four major Allied governments; the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union, set up the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg trials) in Nuremberg, Germany, to prosecute and punish the major war criminals of the European Axis.

The tribunal presided over a combined trial of senior Nazi political and military leaders, as well as several Nazi organizations. The less-recognized International Military Tribunal for the Far East was created (Tokyo trials) in Tokyo, Japan, following the 1946 proclamation by Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur. The tribunal presided over a series of trials of senior Japanese political and military leaders to prosecute and punish Far Eastern war criminals. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials differed in several important aspects including their origins, compositions, and jurisdictions.

The Allied powers established the policy that international tribunals in Europe and in the Far East after World War II would focus on, most importantly, a decision on individual criminal liability for crimes against peace. The Allied governments, and specifically the United States, sought after this policy as a solid step toward organizing an international legal system for discouraging future aggressors and averting the sort of war devastation that the Axis aggression had caused. This US-enlivened policy, first presented at Nuremberg, was repeated and pursued precisely at Tokyo. Luc Reydams and Jan Wouters argued that “The Nuremberg and Tokyo Charters were drafted by a handful of statesmen from the highest echelons of government for whom an international tribunal was not a goal unto itself, but a means to a very specific end.”[1] The Tokyo Charter, necessitated that the principal charges against the defendants be crimes against peace while deeming charges on war crimes and crimes against humanity as discretionary. Therefore, a great part of the court battles at Tokyo rotated around substantiating aggressive war charges, despite the fact that proof of Japanese wartime atrocities was, truth be told, likewise exhibited.

In June 1945, the day of the signing of the United Nations Charter at the San Francisco Conference, delegations of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union, negotiated in London on the regulating principles for prosecuting war criminals. It is noteworthy that the respective heads of these delegations; Robert Jackson, David Maxwell Fyfe, General I.T. Nikitchenko, and Robert Falco later served in notable roles at the International Military Tribunal. Meeting in Potsdam to discuss the future of Germany and Europe, Truman, Churchill, and Stalin affirmed the London talks.

In August 1945, the four major Allied governments signed the 1945 London Agreement, which established the International Military Tribunal. The Charter of the International Military Tribunal was adjoined to the London Agreement and defined the tribunal’s constitution, functions, and jurisdiction[2]. One judge from each of the Allied governments formed the Nuremberg tribunal, the Allied powers also supplied a team of prosecutors. The Nuremberg Charter also provided that the International Military Tribunal had the authority to prosecute and punish persons who committed any of the following crimes: Crimes Against Peace (planning and making war), War Crimes (responsibility for crimes during war), Crimes Against Humanity (racial persecution), and Conspiracy to Commit other Crimes.

The tribunal held its opening session in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, and the trials lasted from November 1945 to October 1946. Twenty-two Nazi political and military leaders were indicted, including Hermann Goering, Rudolph Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, and Albert Speer. The tribunal found nineteen individual defendants guilty and sentenced them to punishments that ranged from death by hanging to fifteen years of imprisonment. Three defendants were found that they are not guilty, one committed suicide before the trial, and one did not stand trial due to physical or mental illness.

Unlike the International Military Tribunal, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East was not created by an international agreement, but it nonetheless emerged from international agreements to prosecute Japanese war criminals.[3] In July 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China signed the Potsdam Declaration, in which they stated that “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.[4]” and urged the Japanese government to, “proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action.[5]” The war in Europe had ended but the war with Japan was continuing at the time the Potsdam Declaration was signed. Nonetheless, the Potsdam Declaration was not signed by the Soviet Union because it did not declare war on Japan until the United States dropped the second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki.[6]

Japan surrendered on the 14th of August 1945, six days later. Officials of the US State Department leaned toward holding an intergovernmental conference to establish special international tribunals, but the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee came up with the plan to use the power of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur,  mindful of the experience with the London Conference where Justice Robert Jackson had enormous difficulty coming to an agreement with other delegations on the Nuremberg Charter.

At the following Moscow Conference, held in December 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union with affirmation from China agreed to a basic structure to occupy Japan. General MacArthur was granted authority to “issue all orders for the implementation of the Terms of Surrender, the occupation and control of Japan, and all directives supplementary thereto.[7]

In January 1946, General Douglas MacArthur issued a special proclamation to establish the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. The Charter for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East was adjoined to the proclamation. Similar to the Nuremberg Charter, it outlined the composition, functions, and jurisdiction of the tribunal. The Charter provided for General Douglas MacArthur to assign judges to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East from the countries that had signed Japan’s instrument of surrender: Australia, Canada, China, France, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as British India and the Philippines. Each of these countries also had a team of prosecutors. As with the International Military Tribunal, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East had jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity[8]. However, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East had jurisdiction over crimes that occurred over a greater period of time, from the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 to Japan’s surrender in 1945.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East oversaw the prosecution of twenty-five Japanese political and military leaders. The Emperor of Japan Hirohito and other members of the imperial family were not indicted. In fact, the Allied governments allowed Emperor Hirohito to retain his position on the throne, albeit with diminished status. The trials took place from May 1946 to November 1948. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East found all defendants guilty and sentenced them to punishments ranging from death to seven years’ imprisonment.

The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials contributed significantly to the development of international criminal law and served as models for a new series of international criminal tribunals[9] that were established in the 1990s. Moreover, the reference to “crimes against peace,” “war crimes,” and “crimes against humanity” in the International Military Tribunal Charter represented the first time these terms were used and defined in an international instrument. These terms and definitions were also adopted in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, and have been depicted and expanded in a succession of international legal instruments since that time. The conclusions of the Nuremberg trials also served as models for the Genocide Convention 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and paved the way for the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

In conclusion, the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials legacy itself is extraordinary, and its importance is hard to overstate. Nuremberg and the international community’s experience with the ad hoc tribunals demonstrate that international justice doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Holding up Nuremberg to an impossible, imagined standard is neither fair nor productive.

We cannot forget that the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials and, fifty years later, the establishment of the International Criminal Court aimed to safeguard peace in all regions of the world. The achievements of these great trials in elevating justice and law over inhumanity and war give promise for a better tomorrow by paving the way to deal with international crimes. Furthermore, the international system has made huge contributions to the birth and development of modern international law.


[1]Reydams, L., Wouters, J., &Ryngaert, C. (2012). The Politics of Establishing International Criminal Tribunals. International Prosecutors, 6–80.

[2] Bard, M. G. (2002). The Nuremberg trials. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.

[3]Piccigallo, P. R. (2011). The Japanese on Trial: Allied War Crimes Operations in the East, 1945-1951. Austin: University of Texas Press.

[4]Carnegie Endowment for international peace. (n.d.). The Potsdam declaration: August 2, 1945. New York.

[5]See as in reference 2.

[6]See as in reference 1.

[7]Taulbee, J. L. (2018). War Crimes and Trials: A Primary Source Guide. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC.

[8] United Nations, International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo Charter).

[9] The former Yugoslavia in 1993 and Rwanda in 1994.

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International Law

When Life Imitates Art

Arlene J. Schar

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Authors: Arlene J. Schar and Dr. David Leffler*

The movie Wag the Dog was released a generation ago, one month before a presidential scandal which invited comparisons between that film and the reality of that time. Now, 23 years later, we find ourselves in the midst of yet another presidential scandal; one which has made this movie once again relevant to our times.

The premise, which hits uncomfortably close to home, is about a war fabricated to deflect attention from a president’s indiscretions. War is described as “show business” with all the trappings: slogans, nicknames, theme songs, and even merchandizing to show solidarity; all orchestrated by a media intent on projecting a party’s “alternate reality” on an unsuspecting public.

However war, whether fabricated or not, is serious business and there are casualties. Iran has recently admitted to unintentionally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error and “US adventurism” for the crash. Human error can happen, and can be especially heightened during times of war. 176 lives were lost from this particular error; how much greater would have been the loss of life if this were on a nuclear scale.

The 2014 Danish documentaryThe Man Who Saved the World tells the story of Stanislav Petrov, a former lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defence Forces and his role in preventing the 1983 Soviet nuclear false alarm incident from leading to nuclear holocaust. Thankfully in this case human error was successfully averted. 

Human error is something that will always be present; and so we have to ask ourselves: is it worth it, to life and to our planet, to entrust such terrible war-making forces to fallible humans? The obvious answer is no, and yet we do. What can we do to change our ways, to guarantee our safety in an uncertain world?

In an ideal world, there would be no enemies, hence no war: war would be prevented by militaries before it occurs – Victory before War. There is a little known scientifically proven way to accomplish this, by using a brain-based technology known as Invincible Defense Technology (IDT). IDT incorporates non-religious advanced techniques of Transcendental Meditation (TM) which, when practiced twice a day in large groups, has the effect of raising the consciousness of all those within its field. 

Extensive peer-reviewed scientific research has repeatedly confirmed that when large groups of experts practice these advanced techniques together, a powerful field effect is generated which affects the surrounding population. This results in measurable decreases in war deaths, terrorism, and crime whenever IDT is utilized.

IDT was previously utilized in Washington D.C. over a two-month period in the summer of 1993, where 4000 meditators gathered for an experiment to lower crime. The result, as documented by an independent board of criminologists, was a 24 percent reduction in criminal violence. This profound reduction in social stress also influenced the public approval of the US president, which suddenly changed from a negative trend to a positive trend, as predicted (Reference: Social Indicators Research, 1999, 47: 153-201).

A study published in May 2019 in Studies in Asian Social Science6(2), 1-45, found that IDT implementation by students trained in the advanced TM techniques resulted in a 96% decline in sociopolitical violence in war-torn Cambodia as compared to violence in the preceding three years.

The Global Union of Scientists for Peace (GUSP) advocates IDT as a cost-effective, simple means to rapidly reduce the societal stresses held to be the underlying cause of terrorism and war.

Military and civilian groups in South America, Africa, and parts of Asia are currently field-testing this approach by creating Prevention Wings of the Military, using IDT to reduce crime, quell violence, create prosperity, prevent the rise of enemies, and create the conditions for lasting peace. 

No nation can afford another war, and no country can feel safe as long as nuclear weapons are available to be deployed, whether intentionally or by human error. It is time for all of us to consider embarking on a new course of action, utilizing IDT to raise the global consciousness so that positive solutions can be found which do not involve war.

Because our next war may well be our last.

*Dr. David Leffler served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director at CAMS.

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Applicability of international law for justice: Remarks on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752

Punsara Amarasinghe

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Authors: Punsara Amarasinghe and Esshan Jayawardane*

The pandemonium erupted following Soleimani’s death seems to have encircled the embattled regime in Iran after admitting that Ukrainian flight was shot down by their force with 176 people on board. The protestors who chanted death to America at Soleimani’s funeral changed their tune when they realized the government they reverently supporting has lied to them about the cause of the air crash as a technical failure. A week after the tragedy Teheran has openly claimed that air crash was a result of human failure as a missile operator misidentified it as a cruise missile after Iran launched missiles to the US airbases in Iraq. In the meantime, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s persistent remarks on demanding justice for the victims has caused an uproar amid the tension. Indeed, 74 victims on board happened to be Canadians albeit they were either ethic Iranians or with Iranian origin. This situation raises some concern whether Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the UK seek some judicial remedy under international law for Iran’s act of shooting down an aircraft which carried its citizens. This situation is a sheer reminder of what exactly happened in 1988 when Iranian flight was shot down by the US Vincennes, a missile cruiser of the US navy in the Persian Gulf. In the situation in 1988, Iran filed a case against the US in International Court of Justice and within the time limit fixed for the filing of its counter memorial, the USA raised preliminary objections to the jurisdictions of the court. However, both parties later entered into an agreement in a full and final settlement resulting in the closure of the case in the ICJ.

From a vantage point, the ability for Canada or other affected states to apply international law to seek justice should be mainly understood by examining the current international law measurements covering the civil aircraft. The Convention on International Civil Aviation16 (Chicago Convention) is the core document regulating international civil aviation. Its governing body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is responsible, amongst other duties, for minimum standards of flight safety. Iran has signed and ratified the convention, hence remained legally obliged to uphold it. It’s Article 3 has explicitly stated “The contracting states must refrain from resorting to the use of weapons against civil aircraft and in that case of interception, the lives of persons on board and safety of aircraft must not be endangered. Secondly, the Montreal Convention for the Suppression of unlawful Acts against the safety of Civil Aviation remains the other necessary black letter legal mechanism available in international law.

Also, the UN charter being the zenith of international law has framed certain conditions regarding the use of force. In particular, its Article 2 (4) requires all member states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” It is assumed that the use of force against a foreign civil aircraft, even within the boundaries of a nation state triggers international law in that it constitutes a “use of force” within the meaning of the above rule. In the case of the Iranian shot down of the Ukrainian flight, the issue of “Self-defense “arises as it occurred amid an escalating situation followed by Solemani’s assassination by the US Drones and Iranians military response to it. If Canada triggers international law to seek justice for its lost citizens, Iran is likely to rely on the Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which verifies member states inherent rights for the self-defense. However, it is important to consider that yardstick behind the applicability of “Self Defense “is rather subtle.  Especially, the justification of applying “self-defense “has been generally referred to the situation of “imminent threat “.  Even before the creation of Article 51 in the UN Charter, the scope of imminent threat was discussed as a complex issue in the early development in the 19th century international law. As an example in the Famous Caroline test affair between the USA and Great Britain, American statesman Daniel Webster described the imminent threat as “instant, overwhelming and leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation”. Given the scenario that flight was shot down just hours after Iran attacked two US bases in Iraq, the salient contention that one can raise is that Iranian missile operator’s deadly mistake of misidentifying the Ukrainian plane as an American missile ended up in a calamity. Nevertheless, there was no clear claim to build an imminent threat from a civil aircraft. Yet, the claim made by Teheran has affirmed shooting down of the flight was a result of human error or otherwise a mistake. The availability of remedial solutions for mistakes in international law are tiny and depends on the specific circumstances.  In this particular situation liability of Iran appears to be more severe than the claim it yields by justifying the act as a result of a grave mistake. The initial Iranian attempt to obstruct the investigation in the aftermath of the air crash and its deceptive act of portraying the air crash as a result of a technical error intensifies the culpability. More importantly plane would have never met its ill fate if Iranian authorities closed down its air space on that day knowing well that hostilities with the US can easily escalate following their missile strikes. This situation upsets Iranian claim of a sincere mistake caused the tragedy as the given factors aptly show even if the mistake was an honest one, the acts Iranian state which paves the path to the catastrophic event were not reasonable. 

All in all, the most less troublesome answer that can help Iran before any possible international law claim by Canada, Ukraine, Sweden or Great Britain is to admit the liability as a state and frame the reparations for those lost lives of individuals. The act of conducting a fair investigation, providing reparation and more importantly the unconditional apology as a state can avert Iran from further diplomatic isolation as a pariah state. 

*Eshan Jayawardane is an independent researcher resides is Napiers, New Zealand. He completed his BA in Delhi University and completed his MA in International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. He can be reached at eshan.jayawardena[at]gmail.com.

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